Pet owners already know how much their furry friends improve their quality of life. Pets provide more than unconditional love they also provide a wellness boost.
There are a number of proven pet ownership health benefits for people including mental and emotional related benefits from decrease in depression, stress and anxiety, enhance social skills; health related benefits of lower blood pressure, improve immunity, decrease risk of heart attack and stroke; and physical related benefits of increased activity.
There is anecdotal and scientific evidence that shows pet owners tend to be healthier than the average person.
Here is my list of 20 incredible health benefits of pet ownership.
1. Keep you active – dogs require daily exercise and are likely to beg for a walk or to play a game. Studies have shown people with dogs are more likely to participate in low to moderate physical activity than people without dogs. Dog ownership may promote a walking activity and motivate both the dog and the owner to go outside for some fresh air, however you are not going to experience these benefits if you are not willing to walk your dog in the first place. Your dog needs exercise so get out there and walk your dog daily and you both can reap the rewards.
2. Help socialise – pets are a great icebreaker to help you meet new people and be sociable. Pets provide a great means for improving your socialisation skills especially meeting and interacting with other pet owners. Though people sometimes may have a hard time getting to know each other, pets can be the common denominator that helps them connect. Some places to meet new people are parks, training classes, dog clubs, outdoor cafes or even online through social pet ownership network sites.
3. Beat the blues, improves mood – pets offer unconditional love, but they may also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. When you come home pets reward you with love and happiness. A lot of the health benefits of pet ownership stem from mental and emotional benefits.
4. Prevents strokes and heart attacks – pets provide a great way to fill your heart with love for your pet. Heart-related studies on people who have pets showed pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, all of which can ultimately minimise their risk for having a stroke or heart attack in the future. For those who have already experienced a stroke or heart attack, research also indicates that patients with a dog or a cat tend to have better recovery rates.
5. Decreases stress – researchers found that when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a spouse, family member or close friend was nearby. Pet owners are better at dealing with stressful events, therefore helping them avoid anxiety-related illnesses.
6. Breath easier – growing up with a pet in the family home can lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies. This research shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
7. Help children develop – children growing up with a pet have many benefits including emotional development. When a child is attached to a dog or cat, they learn to express themselves in more ways and they learn to relate better. Owning a pet also teaches children responsibility. Pets are very beneficial to children suffering from AHDH and autism. A child with ADHD learns to take care of a pet and can encourage them to focus on responsibilities through a predictable routine. While the sensory experience of holding and petting an animal can be soothing for children with autism.
8. For older adults – studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home. For elderly people walking a dog or just caring for a pet can provide exercise and companionship. Pets can also provide a meaning and joy in life. Pets help elderly people stay connected and boost vitality by improving the immune system and increasing energy levels.
9. Lower blood pressure – studies have found a strong connection having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients.
10. Ease pain – research has shown pets can be the best medicine, especially when a person is dealing with chronic pain such as migraines or arthritis as pets reduces anxiety, the less anxiety, the less pain.
11. Lower cholesterol – another heart-healthy result of owning a pet is lower cholesterol. People who own pets, men in particular, have significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who don’t have pets.
12. Rehabilitate from illness – this is the concept behind many pet visitation programs at hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Therapy dogs can encourage mobility, interpersonal contact and socialisation among patients. Research has shown that dogs act as “social catalysts,” leading to greater interaction between people and alleviating feelings of loneliness, especially among elderly patients with physical disabilities.
13. Monitors low blood sugar – trained dogs living with diabetic people have been reported to display behavioral changes when their owners’ blood sugar drops, sometimes even before patients themselves were aware of it.
14. Reduce risk of eczema – some preliminary research has shown that children were significantly less likely to develop eczema by age four if they began mingling with dogs at infancy. This research has found the rate of eczema was lower among kids who lived with a family dog. Further research is being done in this area.
15. Help during seizures – trained seizure dog are similar to those of a seeing-eye dog to help their owners navigate day-to-day activities, and steer them away from harmful situations. These dogs are trained to recognize subtle behavior or body language changes during seizure events.
16. Food allergies – these highly trained allergy dogs can steer you away from foods you are allergic to, they can detect the trace presence for example of a peanut.
17. Detect cancer – there have been cases where dogs have sniffed out or detected a cancerous growth on their owner. Further research into how dogs do this is being undertaken.
18. Improve your lifestyle – people who have pets tend to be happier, more independent, and feel more secure than those without pets. Select a pet that will work with your lifestyle or you can change it accordingly providing you with other rewards, like a new garden and yard or increasing your physical exercise levels.
19. Home security – owning a dog can provide you with instant home security protecting you and your family. Potential burglars are put off with a barking dog.
20. Companionship – pets combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and even bring you feelings of joy and happiness. Pets learn to read your body language, facial expressions and emotions. They are also great for entertainment playing games with them and observing their behavior. Pets can raise your spirits and sense of overall well-being.